Local deputy fighting chemo-resistant cancer

At first, they thought it was allergies.

When Navarre resident and sheriff’s deputy Nic Hubbard, 26, started coughing frequently in February 2018, he did nothing about it. He worked midnight shifts while his wife Lauren took care of their 2-month-old Logan. When his symptoms continued for three months, he went to the doctor. They thought it was a sinus infection and prescribed an antibiotic.

With in a week, a severe allergic reaction landed Hubbard in the emergency room. The doctors took a closer look, and it was discovered Hubbard had Stage III Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He started chemotherapy immediately, and on Oct. 26, 2018, Hubbard completed what he thought would be his last treatment.

The family celebrated.

“We had a party. It was something to celebrate because we were done with hell. And that is what it really feels like,” he said.

Unfortunately, within two days the symptoms returned. Coughing, night sweats, Hubbard said it was like reliving the whole thing over again. He underwent more tests and scans over the next few weeks. Finally, the answer came back that they were dreading.

Hubbard’s cancer never left.

“Going into the actual appointment when we found out for sure, we kind of already expected it,” he said. “It is one of those things where you go from being so relieved and you can breathe to being punched in the gut again. It takes the air out of you.”

And the blows kept coming. Doctors determined that Hubbard had resistant refractory Hodgkin’s disease. About 10 percent of U.S. adults will suffer from Hodgkin’s lymphoma in their lifetime, but only 3 percent of those sufferers will have this chemo-resistant form.

Hubbard’s oncologist told him they were unable to treat this variety of the disease. No hospital in the region was equipped to assist him. But there was a medical trial for a drug that could help being conducted at John Hopkin’s University in Baltimore.

The Hubbards sold off their truck and moved to Maryland for treatment, leaving the family home behind. A family member in Maryland area offered the family housing.

Hubbard takes a drug treatment twice a week as part of an immunotherapy treatment.

“That uses my immune system to fight the cancer,” he said. “Every person at some point gets cancerous cells in their body, but your immune system usually fights it off.”

One drug breaks down the metaphorical wall around a cancer cell while the other drug boosts the fighting power of Hubbard’s own T cells to eliminate the cancer.

Treatment of this illness, especially out of state, can be expensive. The family is currently facing a higher cost of living in Maryland, and insurance does not cover all medical bills.

To support Hubbard and his family, a relative started a GoFundMe campaign on their behalf. It’s already up to $17,883. Others have sent Christmas presents for Logan, as well as prayers, letters and other words of encouragement.

“Everyone back home has been super supportive. It feels like a second family. We don’t feel so alone,” Hubbard said. “Everyone that has donated or prayed for us, we don’t get to tell them all the time how grateful we are.”

Hubbard said the sheriff’s office has been a huge help.

“Sheriff Johnson has told me from the start I don’t need to worry,” Hubbard said. “That guy is a saint. I can’t say enough about him.”

Hubbard’s paycheck was the family’s only source of income. When Hubbard’s illness was discovered, the sheriff moved him to light duty, allowing him to continue to receive a paycheck despite not being able to continue patrols. And they have continued to support Hubbard, even after he had to move to Maryland.

Sheriff’s office Public Information Officer Sgt. Rich Aloy said they have also partnered with Gulf Coast Gun and Outdoors to raffle an FN 509 Tactical 9mm valued at $900 with proceeds going to Hubbard and his family. Tickets are $10 each or $20 for three.

“He is such a nice guy,” Aloy said. “He is always positive, always happy. Any time you hear about something like this it is hard, but when you meet somebody like that they leave an impression on you.”

A variety of locations offer the raffle tickets for purchase, including Hubbard’s church Coastline Calvary of Navarre and local restaurant Stripes Pub and Grill. But Aloy said the best place to purchase tickets is at any of the sheriff’s office substations or main office throughout the county. The Navarre substation is located at 8597 High School Blvd.

The raffle drawing is scheduled for Feb. 14 at 2 p.m.

“We’re praying for his recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. We wish them the best and can’t wait to get him back,” Aloy said.

At the end of this tunnel, the community and sheriff’s office is waiting to welcome the Hubbard’s home, Aloy said.

“If he fully recovers and wants to come back, we will be waiting,” Aloy said. “That is what we are hoping for.”


As seen in the Jan. 31 issue of Navarre Press.

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